Credit for Prior and Alternative Learning



Credit for Prior and Alternative Learning

As an experienced adult, you’ve learned more than a few things along the way. At St. Kate's, we'll recognize this learning to get you closer to your bachelor's degree. 

It starts with transferring in your prior college coursework, of course — but we don't stop there. You may also have also gained valuable knowledge elsewhere that, after a process of reflection and assessment, can be turned into college credit. You may be able to reduce your tuition costs, move closer to your St. Kate's bachelor's degree, and speed your time to graduation by taking advantage of Credit for Prior and Alternative Learning (CPAL).

To get started, review the information below and contact your admission counselor for advice on next steps.

Your prior learning may have come from:

  • Organized/Group learning environments
    • Employer training programs
    • Certifications
    • Military experiences
  • College classrooms (outside of traditionally transferrable courses)
    • Courses takes to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
    • Non-regionally accredited college courses
  • Individualized learning
    • On-the-job
    • Volunteer experiences
    • Hobbies/interests

St. Kate's honors your experiences by offering you multiple CPAL options — and lots of support — to guide you through the CPAL pathway that is right for you: 

1) Earn credit through recommendation services

If you've participated in any of the following organized group learning experiences:

  • Employer training programs
  • Certifications
  • Military classroom and occupational specialty training

You may qualilfy for college credit if these organized learning experiences have been previously evaluated through either of our partners listed below. To see if a course or program has been previously evaluated, click on the links below

2) Complete an exam

You may be able to earn college credit through examination if your gained prior learning through:

  • Organized learning not previously evaluated by ACE or NCCRS
  • College courses at non-regionally accredited schools
  • "Zero credit" courses, or courses taken as CEUs
  • Volunteer, life, or work experience obtained independently

St. Kate’s accepts a wide range of nationally recognized exams  including:

CLEP, DSST & UExcel are options open to all adult students.  If you feel confident in your subject, these exams are an exceptional way to earn maximum credits with minimal cost. See our online guide to find out how these exams transfer.  St. Kate's is also a national testing center for the CLEP. CLEP testing is available at St. Catherine University's Minneapolis campus.

St. Kate’s also offers Credit by Proficiency Exam options on a limited basis for certain courses at a reduced cost.

3) Build a portfolio

Another way to show what you know?  Reflect on and assess your learning, and earn St. Catherine University credit, by developing a written portfolio of your prior learning. 

Credit Recommendation Services and examinations are the two ways to earn credit for prior learning that you should explore first, but if you have learning experiences that have not been recognized by one of the services and there is no exam that matches your learning, the portfolio may be the right choice for you.  The portfolio is a formal collection of reflections and means to document your learning.   

How many credits can you earn through CPAL?

CPAL credits are a form of transfer credit, so the university's standard transfer and residency credit policies apply.  CPAL credits may be applied toward your bachelor's degree in one of three ways:

  • As electives to help you accumulate the total (130) required for your bachelor's, or
  • To meet core liberal arts requirements, or
  • By meeting course requirements for your major or minor.  The number of CPAL credits allowed may be limited in many majors and minors. 

For details on transfer and residency requirements, see the Evening/Weekend/Online bachelor's degree requirements page. 

St. Kate’s honors your learning inside or outside the classroom and the value it brings to our learning community.  Let us help you get credit for all you’ve learned!